Jatayu, the huge bird in the Ramayana, was the witness to Ravana kidnapping Mata Sita. His story is found in the Aranya Kanda of Ramayana. This unimaginably huge bird attempted to stop Ravana and rescue Mata Sita. Jatayu was so strong that when the bird flew up to fight Ravana huge waves were created in the sea, mountains swayed, trees moved violently and some of them were uprooted.
Jatayu inflicted serious damage to Ravana and his vehicle. The bird used his claws to cause damage to the face and body of the demon king.
Ravan was shaken by the attack unleashed by Jatayu. At one point of time, it seemed Ravana would be defeated. But the demon king then used the powerful sword Chandrahasa to cut down the wings of Jatayu.
Mata Sita who witnessed the horrific scene blessed Jatayu that he will live to meet Sri Ram and Lakshman.
Few days later Sri Ram and Lakshman who was in search of Mata Sita found a mortally wounded Jatayu.
The brothers were apprehensive to approach the huge bird. Then Jatayu introduces himself as friend of Dasharatha, father of Sri Ram, and a devotee of Sri Ram.
Jatayu then introduces himself and states that Mata Sita was carried away in the southern direction. He also told about how he fought Ravana.
Bhagvan Sri Ram held the head of the bird and was rubbing it all the while. Jatayu left the world soon after. The bird had the immense luck of dying in the lap of Bhagvan Sri Ram.
Jatayu was cremated in a pyre created by Lakshman. All the ceremonies associated with the dead were performed by the brothers. The powerful bird attained moksha and reached Vaikunta.
Symbolically this incident points towards the core teaching of Hinduism that all forms are divine.
Jatayu was the son of Aruna – the charioteer of Surya. Jatayu had an elder brother named Sampati.